Jennifer McLennan, Director of Communications at SPARC, and Faye Chadwell, Associate University Librarian at Oregon State University, came to the Iowa Library Association 2009 Annual Conference to talk about libraries and Open Access in their talk, “Collective Advocacy: Engaging Librarians in the Open Access Movement.”
As McLennan explained, SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) is “an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.” Basically, SPARC takes advantage of the amazing opportunities created by the Internet to advance the conduct of research and scholarship!
While SPARC might interest primarily academic libraries, McLennan mentioned that public libraries can get involved with the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, which benefits students, patients, taxpayers and citizens. ATA is a lobbying group that “works to ensure that the published results of research funded with public dollars are made available to the American public, for free, online, as soon as possible.” They’ve been working to pass FRPAA, the Federal Research Public Access Act, through congress.
McLennan argued that Open Access is coming, due to advocacy in 4 key areas: OA journals, OA repositories, author rights and policy. Thanks to this advocacy, 101+ organizations now have Open Access mandates that require their authors to publish under Open Access conditions.
Faye Chadwell wrapped up the session by talking about how all readers — not just University affiliates — need access to other scholars’ research, because an informed citizenry is essential for democracy! She pointed to Peter Suber and Salvatore Mele as excellent resources for learning about Open Access and what it means.
Both McLennan and Chadwell admitted that their work deals with Open Access primarily as a movement and a philosophy rather than a viable business model. However, other Open Access advocates such as Raym Crow have written persuasively about alternative non-profit publishing models, including sponsorship, advertising and author fees.